MINNEAPOLIS — Chad Greenway paused in trying to explain what had just happened the previous few hours to the Minnesota Vikings defense. Chris Cook did the same. Jared Allen wiped a hand across his face seemingly trying to wipe free the memories of Sunday night’s 44-31 loss to the Green Bay Packers.
“You got to be kidding me to say that we can’t stop teams,” Allen said. “We score 31 points and don’t win the game; you got to be kidding me. We get blown out three weeks in a row, you got to be kidding me. We got to play better.”
Allen said he was embarrassed, an adjective he’s used many times recently. But he told reporters he’s just trying to be honest. He said he didn’t know what to say. None of Minnesota’s defensive players seemed to have an answer after Green Bay and quarterback Aaron Rodgers surgically took apart the Vikings’ defense.
Third downs? No problem for the Packers. They went 13 of 18 on third down. Green Bay was 2 of 2 on fourth down. Three of the Packers’ first four drives were at least 14 plays long and the other was a quick-strike 76-yard touchdown from Rodgers to Jordy Nelson.
“It’s just demoralizing when you can’t stop somebody on third down,” cornerback Chris Cook said. “They were basically doing whatever they wanted to do today on third down. And for them to come out, when they were in field-goal range, and to go for it on fourth down was kind of really a slap in the face to us. I think they converted it too, so we just got to have a sense of pride and we just got to stand up and play football.”
With Minnesota’s offense unable to sustain drives and a defense being picked apart by Green Bay with 464 yards of total offense, the Packers held the ball for 40 minutes, 54 seconds to the Vikings’ 19:06. Rodgers had 282 yards passing and Green Bay’s revitalized running game with rookie Eddie Lacy chewed up 182 yard and plenty of game clock.
“We talk about pass rush all day, but you’ve got to earn the right to rush the passer and we’re not doing that,” Allen said. “I think they had 200 yards rushing today. It’s ridiculous. The Green Bay Packers? Hats off to them, I mean they obviously have a much improved run game, but when the heck is the last time the Green Bay Packers rushed for 200 yards on somebody? It don’t happen. If that’s not a punch in the gut and a wake-up to people, something needs to be.”
Sunday was the third time this season the Packers have run for at least 180 yards in a game. But Minnesota isn’t used to giving up yards to Green Bay on the ground. Usually, it’s Rodgers that has its way against an overmatched secondary.
Rodgers was as precise as ever, going 24 of 29 passing for 285 yards and two touchdowns. But Lacy churned out 94 yards on 29 carries.
The Vikings opened the game with a 109-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Cordarrelle Patterson, the boost they seemingly need to stay with the NFC North-leading Packers. Then, Green Bay went 90 yards in 14 plays for a tying touchdown drive that lasted 7:24, with four third-down conversions finishing with a Nelson touchdown.
Entering the week, the Vikings owned the league’s second-worst third-down defense. Teams were converting 46.5 percent against Minnesota this season. Only the New York Giants at 47.2 percent were worse. They’ll exit the week in worse shape.
“There’s not much we can do personnel-wise,” coach Leslie Frazier said. “These are the guys we have. So we got to figure out schematically what can we do with the guys that we have to be better. It’s hard to play good defense if you’re not doing better on third down that what we are right now.”
Minnesota’s defense never stopped the Packers. The only time Green Bay drives didn’t finish in the end zone, they were completed with Mason Crosby field goals. Packers punter Tim Masthay basically got the night off, not punting even once.